Situated 40km north of Bhubaneswar near the town of Chaudwar in the Cuttack district of Odisha, Uttareswar Temple is an 11th century east-facing temple dedicated to Shiva.
The temple is constructed entirely from laterite blocks, apart from the doorjambs, a little unusual for ancient temples I saw during my 10 days in the state. A large modern Nandi lies a little further east of the temple, to the south is small laterite tank.
This temple is thought to have been built by the Somavamshi dynasty king Udyota Kesari (local name Mahābhavagupta IV), who reigned over the region from 1040 to 1065 A.D.
A local here told me the name of the temple is derived from the king’s daughter, Uttara, who he built the temple for. I’m always a little cautious in taking local stories at face value, but I have failed to determine if king Udyota Kesari ever did have a daughter of that name.
The temple was in a dilapidated and partially ruined state until 2002, when the ASI stepped in to renovate and restore the structure. In 2017 the government gave a grant to the temple with facilitated the construction of a boundary wall.
Niches in the temple exterior housed some interesting idols, I confess I have not been able to identify all of them.
There’s a strong desire here to turn the temple into more of a tourist destination, but clearly those attempts have not been realised yet. All the locals were both surprised and curious to see me here, and I certainly get the impression that this temple if infrequently visited by outsiders.
Work appears to be on-going renovating areas of the temple compound. Whilst the exterior of the temple today is very plain, there is much evidence that once decorative features were more abundant.
Strewn on the ground around the temple are many fragments of carvings, some sadly appearing to have been recently broken. It’s not clear to be if these were once part of the main temple itself, or were incorporated into other subsidiary structures that have now disappeared.
The presiding deity is a patalaphuta Siva linga within a circular yoni pitha made of black chlorite, the sanctum is 1.50m below the mandapa (jagamohana) floor level.
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